County Court delays hit an all-time high

Georgia Beales

Update written by Georgia Beales, Litigation Paralegal

The latest Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly report highlights a continuing decline in performance. The average time to trial for small claims and multi/fast track claims is now 51.6 weeks and 82.9 weeks, respectively. This figure has increased from 38.1 weeks and 59.4 weeks recorded in 2019 prior to the pandemic.

The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) has launched a campaign to address the increasing delays in the civil justice system. Data reveals that the average wait time for small claims and multi/fast track claims has significantly increased since 2019. Research by ACSO and Express Solicitors found that some courts, such as Dartford County Court, face delays of up to 829 days, whilst the national average is 353 days.

This quarter saw a reduction in the number of claims received by county courts compared to the previous year. Notably, while the number of claims received, defences, and allocations all dropped by 2% to 7% over the year, the number of cases going to trial plummeted by 26%.

The overall decrease in claims was primarily driven by an 8% reduction in money claims. Within this category, claims valued below £3,000 declined, while those above £3,000 increased.

After rising in the previous quarter, the average time from issue to trial for small track claims decreased by 0.6 weeks this quarter. Conversely, the average time for fast/multi track claims continued to increase, rising by 2.7 weeks.

There were 730 judicial review applications this quarter, marking a 22% increase from the previous year, with 130 of these cases already closed.

Despite the decrease in claims, court wait times are lengthening due to various factors such as reduced budgets, delays in HMCTS modernisation, and a lack of political focus on civil justice. To reduce court waiting times, increased funding, better technology adoption, and clearer targets to mitigate delays are essential.

The solicitors in the litigation department at Grant Saw have extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). We strive to resolve disputes out of court whenever possible, saving you significant time and costs. For more information, please email us or contact the team on 020 8858 6971.